"We hired an apprentice" - Q&A with Sam Shinner, Estates and Operations Manager

Fay Daniels
Marketing Manager - Contracts | Business West
6th February 2024

Business West has recently employed a new apprentice, to work in the Estates Team at Leigh Court. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to Sam Shinner, Estates and Operations Manager, to find out more about what it is like having an apprentice on his team, the benefits it has brought the business and how it has impacted him and his colleagues. 


Sam, you recently hired an apprentice into your team. Why did you decide to go down the apprenticeship route?

Leigh Court is a Grade II* listed building, which is used as a business centre, offering event and conference space and serviced offices, as well as being the head office of Business West. We have a small property maintenance team and a property like this has an endless list of jobs to do. I decided to hire an apprentice to help us get through, and to help with our ongoing programme of repairs and maintenance.

How long has your apprentice been with you? Can you tell us more about his role and the type of work he completes?

Our apprentice, Louie, has been with us since the start of December 2023, and his job title is Estate Assistant. He is part of our Workspace team, which is responsible for the maintenance and refurbishment of Leigh Court. We cover a wide range of skills and disciplines, and so far he has covered everything from painting and decorating to grounds maintenance, and everything in between!

How does the apprenticeship work?

Louie spends four days a week with us at Leigh Court, and one day a week in college at the SGS Horizon Campus, learning a mixture of theoretical and practical skills covering everything from plumbing to plastering. 

Have you seen any benefits to your team/the business from having an apprentice? 

He has been a great addition, not only adding another pair of hands, and doing useful work, but has also invigorated the team who are keen to pass on their skills and knowledge. It has also provided Business West with a great opportunity to share our experience of apprenticeships as part of our role supporting the Business community.

Has having an apprentice on your team, meant that you are learning new skills, or using different skills in your day-to-day work than before?


Having a young person in the team has helped us realise how much we have done and learnt over the course of our careers in property maintenance and management. It's easy to take that for granted when you are using these skills every day, but when you have the opportunity to pass them on, it makes you appreciate how much knowledge and skill we possess as a team. As well as the day to day jobs list, old buildings like Leigh Court always throw up new and unexpected challenges, and we are always having to find creative ways to solve problems. It also gives our apprentice an appreciation for the time, craft, and skill that was used when Leigh Court was built, and how things have changed over the years.  

Any other comments you want to share?


Similar to many young people, Louie found school a struggle, and wasn’t well suited to classroom based learning, especially given the disruption he faced in crucial school years through COVID. Even in the short time he has been with us, developing his practical skills has given him a much better perspective on how principles and theories learnt in a classroom can be applied in every day life, and make much more sense to him when presented in that way. He has said that he has learnt more in his first few months than he did in his last year at school!

Julia Gurr, our Learning & Development Manager says

"I was delighted that we found a candidate that is keen to learn with help from SGS college. It’s learning all round – and wonderful to see those supporting Louie appreciate how they can share their learning and experience in this way."

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here
  • Get Involved with the Local Skills Improvement Plans

    Ensure your future workforce has the skills your business needs to thrive. Voice your opinion today in the Business West Local Skills Improvement Plans.

  • Skills Clinics

    Would you like the opportunity to have a 1-2-1 conversation with an experienced Skills Advisor? Discuss your current and future workforce needs, get connected with local and national training providers and feed into the future skills strategy for the region.

  • Hold your next event at Leigh Court.

    Your personal event coordinator will work with you to match the choice of rooms with the needs, nature, and size of your event, whether that’s a meeting for 12 people or a conference for 300.